Electrophysiologic effect of digitalis on sinoatrial nodal function in children

John D. Kugler, Arthur Garson, Paul C. Gillette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Despite the prevalence of digitalis usage in children, the electrophysiologic effects of digitalis on sinoatrial (S-A) nodal function is unknown in this age group. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of digitalis on sinoatrial conduction time as well as on S-A nodal automaticity. Ten subjects (mean age 10.5 years) underwent electrophysiologic assessment of S-A nodal function before and 30 minutes after administration of ouabain (0.01 mg/kg). Total S-A conduction time increased in each subject and the mean value after ouabain (182 msec ± 13 standard errors of the mean [SEM]) was significantly higher (P < 0.01) than before (149 msec ± 11). The sinus cycle length was variable after ouabain (P > 0.1). The corrected sinus nodal recovery time also was variable (P > 0.1), decreasing substantially in three subjects. Mechanisms of the effect of digitalis on the S-A node and atrium are proposed and discussed. It is concluded that digitalis prolongs the S-A conduction time in children with normal S-A nodal function. By prolonging the S-A conduction time, digitalis may artifactually shorten corrected S-A nodal recovery time in some patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1344-1348
Number of pages5
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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